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Old March 26th, 2005, 11:19 PM   #1
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Sony PD170 and Canon XL1s footage variations?

I know there will be some differences in the footage captured by these two cameras, or at least I think there will be. I read the Sony is warmer, the Canon sharper...that sort of thing. I'm about to spend a couple of months shooting side by side with two Canons while I'll be shooting with my Sony.

I'm wondering what the major differences will be between these cameras final product, if any.

Is there something in the manual controls I could do to "match" these cameras up a bit?

One other point to ponder. The two Canons will be shooting on cheap Maxwell mini DV tapes, I shoot Sony Premiere. The more I think about it the more I feel the tapes used may be the biggest factor in any variations in the end product.

What do you guys think?
At full draw,
Tyge Floyd
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Old March 27th, 2005, 12:27 AM   #2
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DV records video digitally as a bunch of 1s and 0s, so the video quality will be *exactly* the same as long as the 1s and 0s are being read back correctly. If the 1s and 0s aren't being read back correctly then you will get a dropout. Some people say that better tape will mean less dropouts. The argument against that is:
1- Many people report shooting lots of footage with no or a few dropouts, indicating dropout rate is really really low. Where they get problems, it has nothing to do with tape brand/quality. Known causes of dropouts:
A- Mixing tape lubricants. Sony and Maxell reformulated their tapes in 97, so you generally won't encounter problems with this.
B- Tape acclimitization. Let tapes settle into room temperature before recording, or else the stretching and stuff can lead to dropouts.
C- LP mode.
D- Dirty tape heads. You can use a mini-DV tape cleaner as an emergency. (This is similar to A.)

2- The different grades of the tape may come from the same roll (i.e. exactly the same, except labelled differently). Some people say the higher grade tape is cut from the middle of the roll, which would be less prone to manufacturing errors.

3- You usually have much bigger problems than worrying about insignificant dropout rates. If you don't even know what a dropout looks like, I wouldn't worry about this stuff.

mini-DV tape goes for about $2.60USD each new from ebay sellers (US only!). I personally would buy that. See the long black line forum for info.

Is there something in the manual controls I could do to "match" these cameras up a bit?
You could shoot some test patterns and match them up that way in terms of auto-exposure, saturation, and sharpness/edge enhancement (sometimes called aperture).

To match auto-exposure, film a chip chart. You could make your own by printing off a bunch of rectangles with values from black to white. I believe your camera has an ae shift setting.
If doing exposure manually, then there's no point matching auto-exposure. Make sure all the cameras get consistent exposure through checking zebras in the viewfinder (and have them set to the same % if possible).

To match saturation, film a test chart (something with a highly saturated red, green, blue, magenta, yellow, and cyan would be good). If you have two vectorscopes (some editing programs and DVrack have vectorscopes), it shouldn't be hard to match saturation. Just try to match one camera to the other, do not try to match the color response to the targets on the vectorscope.

It would also be really great if you could print out a test chart with accurate flesh tone and green (plant/foliage green) and sky blue, as people generally know those colors. These colors may be hard to print out accurately. This might be a little bizarre, but if you have a person stand in you'll get flesh tone. You can tape a leaf to the chart and it'll give you a plant green. And the sky you don't necessarily need to bother with anyways.

To match edge enhancement, film a resolution test chart. see
With a laser printer, that chart shouldn't be hard to make.

Also match other settings like shutter speed / frame mode (don't use frame mode on the Canons).

If you have a video mixer with a wipe (they all have wipes), wipe halfway and it'll make life really easy as you'll be able to easily match camera settings as best as you can. You may not have access to one, so you may have to jury-rig another solution.

Keep in mind you will never match the colorimetry between both cameras. Just do a good enough job that "color continuity" works between the cameras.

2- At the shoot, do obvious things like white balancing to the same white card (or whatever else you use). It would also help to shoot some test charts too after white balancing, so matching colors in post becomes easier.
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Old March 27th, 2005, 04:59 AM   #3
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Re: Sony PD170 and Canon XL1s footage variations?

<<<-- Originally posted by Tyge Floyd :I read the Sony is warmer, the Canon sharper...that sort of thing. -->>>

I think it's more the other way around, the Sony is sharper and the Canon is warmer.
Mathieu Ghekiere is offline   Reply

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